Second Niger Bridge. Will it ever be built?

The federal executive council, yesterday, cancelled the N58billion second Niger Bridge project which was awarded in 2007 by the federal government.

It further approved that the ministry of works should engage a reputable project consultant and commence a new procurement process for an award of contract for the project, on a fast-track basis, in accordance with the provisions of the Public Procurement Act (2007) and ICRC Act. While briefing pressmen after the 18th session of FEC, which was chaired by President Goodluck Jonathan, and lasted for about three hours with only two memos discussed, information minister, Dora Aknyili, and her minister of state, Labaran Maku, said the decision was reached following a memo submitted by the minister of works, which showed that the three-year-old contract has still not been executed.

“Following a memo by the minister of works, Council was made to understand that the present Niger Bridge, located at Onitsha/Asaba in Anambra/Delta States, was constructed about 45 years ago as a major interconnecting link between eastern and the western parts of the country,” she said. “Council had at its meeting of 6th May, 2007 approved the award of a contract on PPP concession arrangement for a period of 30 years for the second Niger Bridge to be constructed within 36 months, in the sum of N58.6 billion. The equity participation for the project was 60 per cent private, and 40 per cent public, of which the federal government’s equity was 20 per cent, and 10 per cent each for Anambra and Delta State Governments. For several reasons, the project could not be executed.”

Explaining the nature of the proposed bridge, Mrs. Akunyili said the project is a six-lane dual carriage-way, approximately 1.76 km wide, with 2.5m shoulders on each side and 4.0m median width. “The project also includes a 14km long approach road with 3 river bridges and other ancillary works” she added. The sum of N7.5 billion has however been provided for the project in the 2010 Appropriation Act.

Security operations in the east

The council also received briefing from the minister of police affairs, Ibrahim Lame, on security report on the South East operation, code named operation “IHE.” The operation commenced simultaneously as planned across the south eastern states of Anambra, Abia, Imo and Enugu of 6th June 2010, the minister said.

He noted that all mobile units deployed for the operation were confirmed to have arrived and deployed to specific locations after receiving brief on the general conduct of the operations. In all, 13 units of police mobile force were deployed to Abia; six to Imo; four to Enugu and 13 to Anambra.

The minister reported that the attack on designated targets, which began on 7th have been successful as “all areas and indeed the entire states were comprehensively covered, entry and exit points properly policed and local police formations duly fortified.”

Massive raids, the minister also reported, have continued with attendant clamp down on criminal activities across the region. Arrests are being made and it is hoped that information derived from the suspects so far arrested will lead to further arrests. The present status of most of the targets raided indicate that criminals may have hurriedly abandoned their hideouts. The president, at the end of the briefing, demanded that the operations against kidnappers be sustained.

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